Construction has just begun on the expansion, which will accommodate a distribution contract with a major home improvement retailer, said Tom Collins, senior director of marketing for Saddle Creek.

AUBURNDALE — Saddle Creek Logistics Services plans to hire about 80 more workers in the fall when it finishes a 343,000-square-foot expansion of its Auburndale distribution center.

Construction has just begun on the expansion, which will accommodate a distribution contract with a major home improvement retailer, said Tom Collins, senior director of marketing for Saddle Creek. He said he could not divulge the name of the retailer.

About 70 warehouse jobs and about 10 office and supervisory jobs will be created and pay will be competitive with similar jobs in the area, Collins said.

Construction is expected to be completed in October, Collins said. The project will expand the facility to 811,000 square feet, "so it is a pretty good-sized operation," Collins said.

The Auburndale distribution center is located at 110 Moss Road and currently is 456,000 square feet, built at a cost of $20 million. It opened in 2016 with operations being moved from a smaller facility in Davenport.

Saddle Creek’s corporate offices and its main campus are a few miles away at 3010 Saddle Creek Road. It includes some 2,279,000 square feet of space with top logistics customers such as AriZona Teas, Ocean Spray, Sam’s Club, Ebro Puleva Foods (rice and pasta), Crown Imports and Quaker, Collins said.

“We are maxed out at the Lakeland campus,” Collins said and the company already had plans for an expansion when it built the Auburndale facility. “We will continue to share resources between the Lakeland and Auburndale campuses. That will help us and our customers.”

Currently, Saddle Creek has about 820 associates working out of the Lakeland and Auburndale facilities, he said.

Nationwide, Saddle Creek has more than 16 million square feet in warehouse space and employs more than 2,700 workers.

"Saddle Creek is an important employer for Polk County," said Sean Malott, president and CEO of the Central Florida Development Council. "We enjoy seeing their continued success and growth in the area. The additional jobs and capital investment into the community aid in the development of a robust economy."

Amy Palmer, the city of Auburndale’s community development director, said Saddle Creek already has pulled building permits for the expansion project. Because the property is properly zoned, it does not need to go through the planning and zoning process for the expansion.

Last week, the City Commission gave initial approval to annex 1.5 acres adjacent to Saddle Creek’s property on Moss Road to accommodate an expansion project. The property currently has a house and mobile home on it. The annexation will go up for a final vote May 21, Palmer said.

After that, Saddle Creek will need to go through the planning and zoning process to establish a future land use and zoning on the 1.5 acres, she said.

Collins told The Ledger the property is not part of Saddle Creek’s current expansion project but for future use.

Marilyn Meyer can be reached at marilyn.meyer@theledger.com or 863-802-7558.